Throughout his long life, Handel demonstrated genius not only as a composer, but also as a shrewd musical entrepreneur, cleverly adapting to the tastes of his audiences.

When he realised that the vogue for Italian opera had waned, he single-handedly created the English oratorio with huge success. Although Messiah was enthusiastically received when first performed in Dublin, strangely its London premiere bombed. Handel though, confident of its worth, bided his time until ultimately it had become his iconic work. Stephen Layton, ‘one of the world’s finest interpreters of choral music’ (Classic FM Magazine), holds the accolade of conducting the ‘Best Messiah Recording’ in BBC Radio 3’s Building a Library series. He’s joined by the Hallé Choir and a quartet of British soloists at the top of their game.